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Press Release

Prostitution Customer Sentenced for Sexually Exploiting Two Minor Girls

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Woodbridge man was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for sexually exploiting two minor girls as a prostitution customer. 

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Steve Nowell, 65, was a frequent commercial sex customer of a prostitution ring led by Michael Gunn, who sex trafficked two minor girls, ages 14 and 16, over the course of two years in the DMV area. Nowell was identified by the minor victims and by two co-conspirators of Michael Gunn as a regular commercial sex customer who paid both of the minors for sex on at least 23 occasions. Law enforcement found a hidden camera at Nowell’s home that secretly recorded at least one of the minors and other females in various stages of undress while at his residence for prostitution. In a recorded interview, Nowell admitted to paying for sex with one of the minors, and claimed he did not know her real age. Evidence at trial revealed the minor weighed between 80 and 90 pounds while she was sexually exploited by Nowell.

In addition to the sentence of 10 years in prison, Nowell was ordered to pay $8,900 in restitution to the minor victims.

This matter was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, which is composed of FBI agents, along with detectives from the Fairfax County Police, Arlington County Police, Prince William County Police, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, Leesburg Police, Alexandria City Police, Washington Metropolitan Police, Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office, George Mason University Police, United States Marshal’s Service, and agents of various Office of Inspector Generals. This matter was brought to the task force by the Prince William County Police.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, Barry M. Barnard, Chief of Prince William County Police, and M. Jay Farr, Arlington County Chief of Police made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maureen C. Cain and Kimberly R. Pedersen prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-188.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Communications

Updated February 1, 2019

Human Trafficking
Project Safe Childhood